August 13, 2019 / 3:24 AM / 7 days ago

Guatemala's next president says 'safe third country' deal needs two congress ratifications

The winner of Guatemala's presidential election, Alejandro Giammattei, talks during an interview with Reuters in Guatemala City, Guatemala, August 11, 2019. Picture taken August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

(Reuters) - Guatemala’s incoming president Alejandro Giammattei said on Monday that the ‘safe third country’ concept regulating where migrants can apply for asylum must be ratified by the congresses of both countries who agree to the deal.

Current President Jimmy Morales made such an agreement with the United States last month under threat of sanctions, meaning Hondurans and Salvadorans would be required to seek refuge in Guatemala, rather than proceeding north.

The move, meant to reduce U.S. asylum claims, provoked widespread criticism from rights groups over the risks of sending vulnerable people to a country with endemic poverty and violence.

Speaking in an interview with CNN, Giammattei added that he had little clarity from Morales’ administration about how the agreement would work.

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Michael Perry

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